While most Portland musicians are happy to simply scrape together enough gas money for a jaunt to Seattle, local R&B artist Issa (pronounced E-suh) can already lay claim to at least one extensive tour of Senegal and plans for similar excursions to India and Western Europe.
Of course, this globe-hopping schedule isn't entirely unprecedented of for an artist who spent his childhood in East Africa and only gained entry to the States a few years ago through a Green Card lottery. After making his transition across the pond, Issa developed connections with a pair of like minded ex-pats, Shaun Chine, originally of Nigeria, and Schahram, an errant Swede, who worked with the producer/songwriter to form Just 4 The Records, a company which is currently releasing Issa's albums and promoting them fervently to international and domestic markets.
With three business degrees between the trio, all of whom are Portland State alumni, it's no surprise that Issa's marketing apparatus is humming at a similar efficiency to that of his slickly produced tunes. Already he has made ripples in the “big leagues” of the Los Angeles music community and has been featured on BET.com, in addition to his extensive international coverage.
This has made for a bevy of remarkable performances on the road for an artist who, somewhat ironically, has had trouble gaining his footing in the Northwest. But, for this problem, as for most obstacles they face, Issa and Just 4 The Records have a plan.
Aiming for extensive radio play and greater in town exposure, Issa is gunning to add Northwest audiophiles to his widespread cache of fans, and when Chine says that “We want the full support of Portland” it's hard to believe that it's not within his grasp.